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Nolan Ryan returns to Angel Stadium for first time in 19 years

June 01, 2012|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Baseball legend Nolan Ryan made a rare appearance at Angel Stadium on Friday to watch the Texas Rangers play.
Baseball legend Nolan Ryan made a rare appearance at Angel Stadium on Friday… (Bob Levey / Getty Images )

Nolan Ryan set foot in Angel Stadium on Friday for the first time in 19 years. The Texas Rangers President and CEO was on hand to receive a specially designed ring commemorating his membership in the Angels' Hall of Fame and to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Rangers-Angels game.

The Hall of Fame pitcher who threw four of his seven no-hitters for the Angels has vivid memories of the last time he was on the Angel Stadium mound, on Sept. 17, 1993.

Ryan was a 46-year-old right-hander pitching for the Rangers, and in the second-to-last start of his distinguished 27-year career, he allowed one unearned run and four hits, struck out five and walked none in seven innings of a 2-1 loss to the Angels.

“I didn’t win, but I had pretty good stuff,” Ryan said. “I knew it was the last time I was going to pitch here. I was a little emotional. The fans here always treated me well.”

Ryan, who canceled a scheduled visit to throw out a ceremonial first pitch as part of the Angels’ 50th anniversary celebration because of health issues last July, is in enemy territory now.

That’s how much the Rangers-Angels rivalry has grown, with Texas winning the past two American League pennants after the Angels won the 2002 World Series and five of six AL West titles from 2004-2009.

“They dominated the division for many years, and we took over the last two years,” Ryan said. “They made a commitment to improving the club over the winter. It’s good for baseball, it’s good that people perceive it as a rivalry. I think it’s growing, developing, but do I think it’s at the level of the Boston-New York rivalry? No, I don’t.”

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